Louis Constan MD

Hercules was the ancient Greek hero, celebrated for accomplishing 12, yes twelve tasks, each one considered impossible by itself; so, to this day we refer to something that is really, really hard as a “Herculean task.” 

Such, we might call the task of reforming our broken healthcare system…impossible in so many ways.  Yet along comes THRIVE with the goal of doing just that.  And THRIVE, of course, does not have a superhuman hero like Hercules in its corner.  What THRIVE does have is a large group of connected, hard-working, and fully engaged movers-and-shakers representing every facet of our community.

And this was never more obvious than it was in THRIVE’s May 26th (virtual) meeting of 650 people, including the 20th United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD.  At that meeting, the organization celebrated a full year’s worth of notable accomplishments and announced its goals for the coming year.

The Surgeon General started off with a rousing speech lauding THRIVE for its vision of unifying the business and medical communities behind the shared goal of economic and physical health, which you can watch at thrivegreatlakesbay.org.  Then came the truly good stuff, where THRIVE reviewed what it has actually delivered for our community.  Through community partners and shared priorities of the portfolio, THRIVE has:

  • Trained 25 physicians in Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid cessation.
  • Brought in 12 new Psychiatrists to our area under CMU, started a Psychiatric Residency, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner program and a Psychiatric Child Adolescent Fellowship.
  • Showed us how to reduce our alarming rate of pre-term births, low-birth-weight infants, and NICU admissions…and how to increase breast-feeding.
  • Promoted Peer recovery efforts for Opioid addicts and enhanced protective factors for youth.
  • Brought together schools and universities to begin to figure out what to do for the many, many children who have experienced trauma during childhood.

And now, perhaps the biggest ‘Labor of Hercules’ yet performed by THRIVE was to get ALL the leaders of our healthcare community on the same page regarding the biggest embarrassment ever to hit the field of medical care: the Johns Hopkins 2016 report that showed medical errors to be the third leading cause of deaths in America.  Yes, this is the report that showed how going to the doctor comes with a distinct possibility that such a visit will get you killed.  There was no way to sugarcoat such a report or to reassure our patients.   

And there was no way to point a finger elsewhere.  The buck stops here.  With us.  But blame, as you all know, is not the issue.  Medical care is so very, very complicated, and certainly ‘to err is so very, very human’ that systems need to be put into place that will make it impossible for fallible humans to make those mistakes and cause those deaths.  It will be hard, but it can be done.  We know this.  It has been done successfully in the aerospace industry and elsewhere; we have simply thus far lacked the collective will to do this in the medical field.

Until now.  To be sure, since 2016, only a meager 10% of healthcare systems across the country have stepped up with pledges of ‘zero harm’ to their patients.  But on May 26, 2020, OUR healthcare leaders, the leaders of OUR healthcare systems, made this pledge, signing a solemn oath, in front of 650 people present, committing to working towards zero harm to our patients; with measurable metrics, regular reporting on progress, and an eventual goal to make our area the safest area in the entire state of Michigan in which to receive health care!

THRIVE is now officially a movement…a movement that will turn around a broken healthcare system, a movement that we can be proud of…and a movement that we will all need to be a part of in some way.  The next public discussion meeting comes on October 7, at 1-2:15 P.M.  Be there.  Details elsewhere in this Bulletin.